North of Port Hardy at the confluence of the Burke Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound is an abandoned cannery called Namu, meaning place of high winds, or whirlwind.
Established in 1893 as a fish-processing plant and cannery, a fire levelled the community in the 1960s. The cannery was subsequently rebuilt and operations continued until the late 1980s, when high transportation costs and low fish prices forced the plant to close.
You can still see structures built on wharves over the water, interconnected by boardwalk. A short trail leads to nearby Namu Lake, which has long expanses of sandy beaches and good fishing.
When European explorers arrived on this coast in the 18th century, it was inhabited by Natives from several cultural groups. Although hunters and gatherers like the tribes of the Interior, the coastal natives were able to establish permanent villages due to their abundant food supply. Their complex cultures were distinguished by an emphasis on wealth, a refined artistic tradition, and a rich spirit life. Travel along the coast was accomplished by dugout canoes that could be impressive in their length. Although there’s nothing more inspiring than to see one of these massive canoes in action, they are only brought out for ceremonial occasions, such as a paddle trip to Vancouver or the Olympic Mountains in Washington.
Location: Namu is located on the coast of central BC, north of Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island, at the confluence of the Burke Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound.
Kayaking: Many parts of the Discovery Coast are relatively unknown to kayakers. It will appeal to resourceful paddlers who seek a sense of pioneering, which includes laying some groundwork, discovering new fishing spots, wildlife watching, dealing with unknown tidal currents, and finding new campsites.
Approximately 130 km north of Port Hardy and 10 km west of Namu is the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area, British Columbia’s largest marine park, and one of the better-known paddling areas. This 123,000-hectare area encompasses a large archipelago of outstanding natural beauty and recreational value. From fully exposed shorelines to rolling, forested hills and 1000-metre peaks, Hakai offers some of the most varied and scenic coastline in the province. Special features such as lagoons and reversing tidal rapids, beaches, all-weather anchorages, tombolos, and an intricate network of coves, inlets, and channels make it an ideal area for boaters, anglers, scuba divers, naturalists – and experienced sea kayakers. The recreation area has no developed facilities, and offers wilderness sites for camping only. Over 100 species of birds have been identified in the park, ravens and ospreys among them. Feeding flocks of gulls, auklets, murres, and murrelets are numerous in the waters of Kildidt and Queens Sounds. Black oystercatchers, pelagic cormorants, surf birds, and both black and ruddy turnstones are also common.
Diving: The waters of the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area are amongst the finest in the world for underwater exploration, with exceptional viewing opportunities year-round. There are wrecks along virtually the entire Central Coast, making it a magnet for divers. Three good wrecks are just off Atli Point, near Shearwater on Denny Island, and Namu is particularly popular. Liveaboard dive charter vessels are available, which are outfitted with diving tanks and wet suits, and are based on the Central Coast between June and September.
Hakai Pass in the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area is world-famous for its salmon fishing, particularly for chinook (spring), which are commonly caught on cut-plug herring. The area has a number of commercial floating fish camps and resorts. Besides salmon, there’s good fishing here for halibut, lingcod, and rockfish.
If travelling on the Queen of Chilliwack, the most stunning scenery is between Bella Bella and Bella Coola. With the setting sun behind you, the monolithic rock formations looming over the narrow Burke Channel give the cruise a European flavour. You’ll get an even better look at the scenic Dean Channel during daylight hours if you board the ferry in Bella Coola for the southbound sailing. Weather permitting, the ship’s two upper decks are an excellent vantage point from which to watch for the logging camps, barge houses, and abandoned settlements that indicate a human presence on this rugged coastline. Although Natives have inhabited the area for thousands of years, the inhospitable terrain has limited development and exploration by European settlers until comparatively recently. Wildlife viewing – the ferry slows for orcas – is another bonus of this trip. Don’t forget your binoculars. Facilities aboard the Queen of Chilliwack include reclining sleeper seats, a cafeteria, and small licenced lounge, a gift shop and – a boon for kayakers – pay showers.
Those taking the Discovery Coast Passage should be aware that, depending on their departure time and length of trip, they may have to ‘camp’ one night aboard ship. A sleeping bag or warm blanket will enhance your comfort in one of the reclining seats. Alternatively, bring along a camping mattress and stretch out on the floor. A small number of cots and blankets are available onboard. Hardy types are also permitted to pitch their (self-supporting) tents on the deck.
Circle Tour: See the best of BC when you embark upon one of the many circle tours that take in Vancouver Island, the Discovery Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the interior winelands or the remote Northern British Columbia. The coastal tours involve exciting rail, road and ferry trips, which is half the fun of travelling in British Columbia. Scenic highways flank the coast, taking you through charming beachside communities, rolling farmlands and majestic mountain ranges. Start your journey here and now, by selecting from one of the Circle Tours, designed to assist you in planning your journey by road through beautiful British Columbia.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.